As he listened to the back and forth, Matticus realized that Revis was stalling because his Knight was in trouble. He began to crawl towards the sound of the voices, as quietly as possible, to try and salvage the situation. However, when he heard that it was a trap to capture him he stopped. There was something about the way the assailant laughed, something he recognized.
The aha moment came exactly as he felt his arms get grasped and then twisted painfully behind his back, as he was hoisted to his feet. It was Dani. She had betrayed them.
The Jester’s mind raced, frantically trying to think of a solution to the current predicament, even as he struggled against the powerful arms that held him in check.
“We’ve got him,” a voice said behind him.
“And now, dear Revis, it is time to die,” Dani said maliciously.
Matticus was horrified to hear the sheer delight in her voice. He briefly wondered what his Knight had done to draw out such animosity in her even as he was calling out in despair.
Then there was a crack and a thud in quick succession followed by silence. The arms gripping the Jester slackened a bit as his captors were distracted by something that was obviously a change in the plan.
When Matticus heard Deb speak, he nearly had a heart attack he was so relieved.
“Release the Jester, or you will all die.”
“Do it,” Dani commanded her associates. Then, with glee in her voice, she added, “Too bad, Revis, she didn’t say anything about you.”
Dani stabbed. Her knife sunk into flesh. Blood splattered everywhere. The sound of gagging echoed throughout the room causing Matticus to cringe. “Revis,” he called out, hoping that his Knight wasn’t hurt too badly.
Seconds later, the sounds of gagging drifted away to be replaced by silence. With a laugh, Dani asked, “Who is going to protect you now, Jester?”
Suddenly, light burst into the room when somebody said, “Futbol rules.”
Matticus was confused. It wasn’t until his vision adjusted to the light that he understood what had happened. Revis stood behind Dani, holding the fiery sword at her back. Deb was the one holding onto the Jester’s arms. One of Dani’s helpers laid dead at her feet.
“How….I mean, how….but…”
“Don’t worry about the details,” Revis shrugged at him. “Just care about the outcome.”
As he shook his head at his Knight’s antics, Matticus realized that he knew where they were. They were in the basement of his castle. Of course, that was where they were supposed to be, but after being away for so long, it felt good to finally be home.
The Jester breathed in the familiar smells of home, but then coughed as his nostrils caught odors that didn’t belong. His home had been overrun. It was no longer the familiar, the sanctuary, the safe haven for him. His eyes sought and found Dani’s in the flickering light from the magical sword and he shrugged out of Deb’s grasp, striding towards their would-be betrayer.
“What have you done? And why!”
Revis brought the sword closer to her garments so she could feel the heat licking off it, and yet her gaze never wavered with fear or uncertainty. Whatever her reasons were, the threat of dying would not be enough to get her to talk.
Stopping in front of her, Matticus tried to recall every detail about his subject that he could bring to mind, desperate for something that would concern her more than her own life. When he hit upon it, he couldn’t help the dark smile that twisted his lips. Using her family against her seemed only fitting considering the threats that had been leveled against his own family.
“How is your wife these days? Do you have her hidden someplace safe?”
Dani’s eyes bulged and the resolution on her face dropped. She loved her wife more than anything else in the world.
“It doesn’t matter,” Revis interrupted. “I still have some of that ink left. No matter how good you have her hidden, I can make a portal that will take me right to her.”
With a look of defiance, she stared into Revis’ eyes, “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh, so you and yours can threaten our families, but we can’t do it to you?” When she didn’t answer, the Knight continued, “I won’t like it, but if it means that my family, the Jester’s family, and the rest of the Kingdom is safe, I will do whatever is necessary to get you to talk. And I guarantee that you will like it a lot less than I will.”
While Dani contemplated the Knight’s threat, Deb disarmed the traitor’s cohorts as Matticus tied them up. Violently, the room began to shake. The four people who weren’t tied were able to hold their balance. All of the others fell to the floor.
“There’s our distraction,” Matticus said. “Rara and Grayson are right on time. What should we do with her,” he asked, gesturing to Dani.
Revis turned to walk towards the door. Over his shoulder, he called out, “Kill her.”
Matticus started to object, she may still have been of some use, information or as a bargaining chip, plus there had already been so much needless loss of life in this war. However, he stayed his retort. Dani had picked her side. She had put his family in danger. She had betrayed her oath. Her fate was sealed.
Deb was watching the Jester for confirmation of Revis’ command, and he nodded once, solemnly, and then followed his Knight out of the room. He wasn’t happy about it, but he had made harder decisions in his time ruling the kingdom.
Sprinting to catch up to Revis, Matticus said, “We got a bit lucky back there. If Deb had been in on the plot too, we’d have been done for.”
Revis didn’t reply. The knight continued to stride purposefully towards their next objective. There was work to be done and he didn’t have the time or brain power to waste on the what-ifs of their journey. Matticus could see that in his face, so the Jester let the matter drop.
Once they reached the main corridor, they slowed down. The two of them began hiding in the shadows as they moved. Matticus noted that there were no guards in the hallways. Dragons made great distractions, apparently.
Just as they reached the throne room, Revis abruptly stopped. Turning back to Matticus he questioned, “You know I was just joking about killing Dani, right?”
“Come on, now. We don’t kill off fellow bloggers.”
“But you cut off Guapo’s head!”
“Ok, so I killed off one fellow blogger. I haven’t killed any more yet, have I?”
“But you said…”
“Relax. I’m sure Deb knew I was kidding.”
“She doesn’t know you!”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I guess it wasn’t a very good joke then, was it?”
The Jester sputtered through an incoherent response. Revis flashed a smile right before he opened the door to the throne room. After the Knight walked through the door, Matticus stopped his sputtering long enough to follow him. As soon as they stepped inside the threshold, the door slammed shut behind them.
“Welcome,” came a voice that they hadn’t heard in a long time. Looking, they saw Jaded sitting on the Queen’s throne. “I’ve been expecting you.”